Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: Applying the Vision Quest

It’s easy to feel discouraged sometimes. Self-doubt is such a common human condition – it happens to all of us.

Just this week, I doubted myself a few times: right after I turned in my book proposal and wondered if I even had a chance to snag this project, when I realized that the first paragraph of my novel wasn’t good enough for Nathan Bransford’s latest contest, and when a virus nearly destroyed my computer and made me kick myself for forgetting to back up my latest files.

But, given that it’s “Thoughtful Thursday,” and it’s been a while since I explored the journal entries from my first vision quest, I thought I’d look for a few nuggets of wisdom to provide a bit of perspective. As with the previous five blog posts about my vision quest experience, I’ve opened up my old journal to shed some light on my present state of mind. On June 28, 1990, I wrote three statements (based on my mentor James’s teachings) that seem to apply to the happenings this week:

Nowness is the only reality. – So, I should stop worrying about what may or may not happen with my book proposal. I did the best I could, and there’s no point in fixating on it now.

The essence is refusing to give up; the key is not fearing yourself. – So, there’s no point in focusing on the difficulty of the revision process. All I can do is plunge ahead, and the next time Nathan holds a first-paragraph contest, I’ll be ready.

We cannot control the situation, but we can control our reaction. – So, while I can’t eradicate the world of hackers, I can refuse to let such impotence overwhelm me.

And here I thought I couldn’t learn anything from my thirteen-year-old self.

So, what do you do to combat the voices of self-doubt? How do you quiet them – at least for a little while?


Lori said...

Oh, that is so useful to keep in mind, that we cannot control the situation but we can control our reaction. I am always worried and fearful and this would make a good mantra for me.

MattDel said...

Yeah, self-doubt's one of those cruel mistresses.

What's worked for me in the past, and still works really, is remembering the praise that folks have given me. Whether it's teachers, fellow writers, friends ... so on and so forth. Beyond that, it helps that I'm confident in my own abilities (like I said in a recent post over at zee blog).

My faith also helps -- prayer's gotten me through some tough times and it will continue to get me through them. It's all a matter of letting things happen in their own time.

Yeah, I attempt to be Zen. Sometimes it even works.

A misinterpreted wave said...

What a truly amazing photo! It absolutely brightened my day. Yesterday I found out that I was overlooked for a job. My reaction surprised me as I was upset about not getting a job I probably didn't really want. Anyway ... the way I see things is that there is something in this for me to learn, or some lesson that I am supposed to hear but keep on ignoring.

For me, I think that I really have to concentrate on my writing, stop giving myself excuses for avoiding taking the plunge and trying to get an agent and/ or publisher. If I got the job, I would have used it as an excuse. I didn't get the job. I was very firmly told to stop ignoring my dreams.

Becky said...

AWESOME!! I love it! I've been dealing with self-doubt of my 11 yr old lately. Tough to watch! I keep telling him that no matter what, I know he's a super-fantastic kid. At this age, it's his peers influencing him (middle school). Maybe I can use your post to calm his self-doubt. Thanks.

Morgan Xavier said...

Excellent statements! They really spoke to me today :)

I think the fact that I am extremely stubborn really helps fight self-doubt. Whenever I get stuck in the rut (which is often), I quiet all of my discouraging thoughts with the knowing that I am going to continue anyway, because otherwise, what's the point? Nothing worthwhile comes without hard work and sacrifice :)

My mantra, which I've adopted from one of my favourite movies, 'Galaxyquest,' is: "Never give up. Never surrender."

Natalie said...

"We cannot control the situation, but we can control our reaction." I love that. I, like you, am at the point with my first manuscript where I have absolutely no control over what happens next. I just have to wait.

Susan R. Mills said...

Great post! I needed to hear this today.

Bane of Anubis said...

Self-doubt's particularly difficult in an arena where failure is so common. Ultimately, you have to fall back on self-belief/confidence to get you through (sure, support from others helps, but unless you've got that inner belief, you're probably gonna quit)...

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Lori. I'm glad that this advice is helpful to you. I tend towards worry and fear as well. So I find myself repeating this mantra (and the Serenity Prayer) a lot.

Matt - Yep. You said it. Self-doubt is a cruel mistress. Remembering praise (the good stuff) is useful advice. Of course, we're all works-in-progress, so it's not good to let such praise go to our heads and make us think we have no room for improvement. But remembering our strengths and having a bit of self-confidence definitely helps us face our foibles (and our bad days) better. But, alas, I'm an atheist - so I have no faith beyond myself (and the happenstance of the universe). If I only I were a Zen master.

Laura Martone said...

Chris - Thanks! I'm glad you liked that image - and that it brightened your day. I forgot to include it on my ode to fall post last week. I'm sorry that you were overlooked for the job, but as you said, it might give you just the opportunity you need to work on your writing. That's how I feel about the book proposal I turned in recently. I really want the chance to write this guide, but on the other hand, if I don't get the job, perhaps it's a sign that I need to focus on my novel. Having "paid" work is an easy excuse to put the fiction aside... again. So, my advice to you, Chris, is to stop ignoring your dreams and take the plunge already! Good luck. :-)

Becky - You're welcome! Glad this post spoke to you... and perhaps to your son. I'll bet it is hard to watch someone you love have such self-doubt (I even find it hard to see in my own hubby - let alone a child). Just keep telling him that you love him - he'll get through this self-doubting phase eventually. We all have our adolescent stories, I'm afraid.

Laura Martone said...

OMG, Lisa! That's hilarious about GALAXY QUEST. That's one of my favorite movies, too - and my hubby and I quote that line all the freakin' time! (Of course, you have to say it as Mathesar would - teehee.) Oh, and I'm happy that my adages spoke to you today. The stubborn will to keep going - no matter what - is an excellent way to combat self-doubt. We can't always control when self-doubt rears its ugly head, but we CAN control our reaction to it.

Natalie - Waiting's not so bad... especially when chocolate is involved! Good luck with your book!

You're welcome, Susan!

Bane - True 'nuff. It doesn't help that so many of us are trying to do something (get published) that might just be tougher than winning the lottery. Self-doubt is bound to creep in at times, which is why, as Matt said, belief in oneself is the best medicine.